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#3088412 03/02/21 07:59 AM
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On new pianos, the hammers I've seen are usually quite round. Here are a couple guys who sand quite a bit of felt off the hammer so it's more pointed at the top, like a diamond. Any reason to do this? What is the ideal hammer shape?





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In general you should try to follow the shape of the original hammer, there is no benefit cutting through layers of felt.

On very worn hammers you have to create a rounded strike surface so you have modify this approach and leave extra felt on the widest part of the hammers. If you try to follow the original shape you would remove too much felt from the hammer. Hope that's clear.


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Ben Treuhaft in the top video worked for Steinway in New York for years. When someone online questioned his 'diamond' shaping, he showed a Steinway diagram depicting just that shape.

Steingraeber hammers are VERY diamond-shaped, and Udo Steingraeber on the Pianotech Radio Hour a couple of months back spoke about advantages this confers (though I can't recall all he said!).

BIll McKaig, what you say makes total sense. Most of my hammer filing has been on old uprights, and I've yet to see one that could be re-shaped diamond shaped!

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The hammer shape should fit the nature of the hammer and the piano.

If a hammer has the denser felt more common after WW2 and especially after the 1960's; you will find it needs to have as small a strike surface as the felt will allow. If they are "old-fashioned" soft, lighter hammers; you will find the bass and tenor actually need significant string marks to sound their best.

You will also find that the harder denser hammers wear much faster than the lighter, softer ones, so the lighter, softer hammers need reshaping far, far less frequently.

Last edited by Ed McMorrow, RPT; 03/02/21 11:22 AM. Reason: clarity

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There are two factors that come into play when shaping hammers: the resilience and elasticity of the hammers at the points that they hit the string, and the shape of the hammer as it leaves the string. Overall, it is the shape of the string when the hammer leaves it.

As hammers get worn, the strike point flattens and hardens, so the shape of the string is more angular, and in fact, angular in the shape of the hammer at the strike point, so at both ends of the strike point. This angularity persists until the stiffness of the wire smoothes it out, but it affects the attack.

If the hammers are too hard at the tip, you have the same affect, except with just an angle at the tip. This can happen from over-juicing the tip of the hammer, while over-juicing up the sides will give you the effect of a flat strike point. You should be sparing when juicing hammers. If should not saturate the hammer near the top. That way, if the sound is too harsh after juicing, you can sand away the lacquer until it sounds nice.

Of course, when you sand, you want to make sure that all the strings strike evenly, so you do not have one string making one sound while the others are making a different sound.


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It is also noteworthy that SS rarely conforms their hammers to their own published diagram specs. My own practice is to shape to as small a strike point as the hammers will allow. Sometimes I can and sometimes I can't. Long covered felt makes it harder to create a "pointed" strike, whereas short fibered (and especially lacquered) felt is easier to do.

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Too much of a point is bad in the bass. It is difficult to generalize when there is such a great difference in the frequency of the lowest notes and the highest.


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